Politics is a complex and dirty business. It has often been called “blood sport”. Friends can turn on one another in an instant, and the old cliché, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” are words to live by for most Politicians, although it is unlikely that anyone will admit that out loud. Some people, like Bill Clinton are naturals at it. Love him or hate him, Clinton has the charm, personality, and charisma to make anyone believe that he is their best friend. Others, not so much. They attempt various paths in the political arena, working for the candidate of their choice, heading up political organizations, or even running for office themselves. The reality is that they are not very good at any of these avenues, and they tend to leave a swath of possible good intentions but definite bad happenings in their wake.
Every state no doubt has their own political Mr. Fix-it. Ed Martin seems to have done plenty of repair work in the Show-Me State, whether we need it or not. The result is a questionable track record that goes back way before the current situation at Eagle Forum.
Martin’s first big step into state wide politics after serving on the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners was being named as Governor Matt Blunt’s Chief of Staff in 2006. Shortly after being named to that post, an investigation was started by the Springfield(MO) News-Leader into whether or not Martin was using his position to influence various groups against political opponents. After a battle to use sunshine laws to gain access to Martin’s emails while Governor Blunt’s Chief of Staff, several other major newspapers in the state found that Martin did indeed use his office for political gain. Ultimately the State conducted its own investigation and found that the emails were mishandled by the Blunt administration and that Martin had illegally destroyed some emails in violation of the state sunshine laws.
The road to Ed Martin’s various runs for elected office is long and often confusing. In 2010, he ran for Congress against incumbent Russ Carnahan. By most accounts Martin ran a good campaign but was narrowly defeated by Carnahan. It is at this point where things begin to get a bit sketchy. In 2012 Martin announced a run for the U.S Senate against incumbent Claire McCaskill. But now, congressional district lines have been redrawn and Martin decides to run for Todd Akin’s old seat in the second Congressional District. This campaign is also short lived as he drops out of this race and decides to run against incumbent Attorney General Chris Koster. Is everyone keeping up?
In 2009 the St. Louis Tea Party was on track to become one of the most influential Tea Party groups in the nation. But that all changed when the purely Grassroots organization began to splinter. The reason, some were of the belief that the Tea Party should also be in the business of endorsing candidates. The candidate those folks wanted to endorse, Ed Martin in his run for Congress against Russ Carnahan. This split among Tea Party faithful proved to be the death knell for a group that in its infancy had the potential to produce many rising stars within the Conservative movement. However, the fate of the St. Louis Tea Party would be sealed as soon as Ed Martin’s loyal fan club appeared on the scene.
In 2013, Ed Martin was elected as Missouri Republican Party Chairman. Fundraising for MOGOP immediately dropped off after Martin took the helm. At one point the bank account for the Party only held about $200 and in 2014, former Republican candidate for Governor Dave Spence had to write a check to infuse the Party with some cash flow just to make payroll.
Of course the latest in this line of snafus is the upheaval at The Eagle Forum. Since his arrival at Eagle Forum in January of 2015, things have not been rosy for the organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly in 1972. In April of this year a lawsuit was filed by six board members, one of which is Schlafly’s daughter seeking an injunction against Martin and Schlafly’s son John. Part of the lawsuit states that Martin refuses to acknowledge that Eagle Forum fired him at the beginning of April, and that he and John Schlafly have prevented other board members from accessing documents and financial accounts. They also accuse him of malicious social media attacks against the board. Phyllis Schlafly herself has accused the board of a hostile takeover attempt, and she and others within the Missouri political circle believe this is because of her endorsement of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. She is not named in the lawsuit. Board members claim that Martin is again using his position for his own agenda and that he has fostered “unprecedented chaos and division” at Eagle Forum. Sound familiar?
What Ed Martin’s future political plans are is unclear. In other words, no one knows quite where the political trail of breadcrumbs will lead. Just look for the usual path of destruction.